Boris Romaguer Class of 1994
Why cosines, enzymes and civil rights are important in life
t was touching to reconnect with my former teachers
from the French American International School at the
celebration of its 50th Anniversary, the very individuals
who helped and inspired me to excel in academia and
professionally. It was remarkable to see that most of
my former teachers had stayed on at French American
after nearly two decades! Obviously, if the school has
succeeded in retaining so many of its teachers for such a
long period of time, its management, its students and/or
its staff have made it worthwhile to stay.
After French American, I majored in biology at the universities of McGill, Uppsala and Quebec; and pursued a career
in environmental management. During my twenties, I worked
for local environmental non-governmental organizations; and
then I eventually worked with international organizations such
as the United Nations Environmental Program on biodiversity
and forest policy. My fieldwork covered diverse topics from
ozone-depleting substances to forestry issues that took me to
places as exotic as Brazil and as remote as Papua New Guinea.
Since 2005, I have been working for the Government of
Canada at various departments from the Canadian International Development Agency to the Department of Foreign
Affairs working mainly on sustainable development issues. I
also attempted a short-lived political career as an environmental advisor when I worked for the Canadian Parliament until
losing the elections in 2008.
Boris Romaguer (center) with Netta Maclean and Bruno Barros
Needless to say, French American’s multilingualism was
an asset for me when working internationally. My English
(Thank thee Mrs. Goldberg!) and French (Merci Mme Hills et
Mme Colardelle!) were useful getting into the United Nations system and the Canadian federal government, while my
Spanish and Portuguese (Gracias, Señor Paz!) were also useful
while working in South America. As for my Swedish (Tack
Lisa!), it served me not just when shopping at IKEA but also
when negotiating with the Nordic countries, who continue to
be one of the largest donors to environmental official development assistance.
Other tools that French American provided me included
the analytical and logical skills sharpened by taking mathematics taught by tireless Mr. Barros and Mrs. Maclean. Although
I do not think I ever attained the academic rigor chiselled into
us after having survived Bac C and Higher Level Mathematics
throughout my six years of graduate and postgraduate studies
in the sciences, I am nevertheless grateful for the structured
and logical mind it trained us to develop. Who would have
thought that cosines and differential equations would become
useful one day? Yet such logic proved to be useful in many
aspects of my life from properly titrating solutions to calculating my future mortgage. Even in politics, believe it or not,
having logic is useful, especially in countering the arguments
of politicians who lack it.
As for the combination of “histoire-géographie” – unique
to the French educational system – it made me
understand and embrace the evermore cross-cultural and cross-national globalized world
in which we live (Merci, professeur Faure!).
Although I took for granted the extraordinary
international outlook we were taught about different religions, languages and cultures, I quickly
realized this type of education was something
which not all Americans had been exposed to
during their secondary education. As the former
chair of the board of French American so astutely
observed during our school’s 50th Anniversary, students at French American were better
equipped to understand the underlying causes
and ramifications of 9/11 than many other kids
and hence were perhaps not so ready to jump to
the trigger as others who had supported the U.S.
Administration following these tragic events.
Indeed, with hindsight, had the electorate that